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Monday October 25, 2021

Who is Mullah Ghani Baradar

By  Sabir Shah
August 18, 2021
Who is Mullah Ghani Baradar

LAHORE: The 53-year-old key Afghan leader, Mullah Abdul Ghani Akhund or Mullah Baradar, was nicknamed “Baradar,” which means brother, by Mullah Omar, the spiritual leader of the Taliban and the de facto 11th head of state of the war-torn nation from 1996 to late 2001.

Baradar, a Durrani Pashtun by ethnicity, was deemed to be a key confidant of Mullah Omar, whom he had befriended when both were in their teens and fighting the Soviet Red Army together. According to the BBC News and New York Times archives, Mullah Baradar was arrested in Karachi by the Pakistani and American intelligence agencies in February 2010, and then released on October 24, 2018, amid Washington's push for peace talks.

The formidable Taliban leader was subsequently appointed to be the chief of the Taliban's diplomatic office in Doha, Qatar. He was taken into custody in a morning raid on Madrassa Khuddamul Quran - near the Nooriabad Industrial Estate, some 45km from Karachi.

The American government had played an active role in his release. Research shows that in September 2013, the-then Nawaz Sharif regime in Pakistan had seemingly extended an olive branch to the otherwise “resilient” and "resolute" Ghani Baradar, and many media houses had predicted his early release from prison.

The New York Times had revealed the Pak agencies was also assisted by the American CIA in the operation against Mullah Baradar, who had been subjected to United Nations sanctions including a travel ban, an arms embargo and the freezing of assets. The American newspaper had maintained that the prisoner was the most significant Taliban figure to be detained since the US-led war in Afghanistan began in 2001.

The BBC News had asserted: “Correspondents say Mullah Baradar is reported to be in charge of all long-term strategic military planning for the Taliban in southern Afghanistan and, if confirmed, his arrest will have a very big effect on the Taliban's ability to conduct the insurgency there. Senior US officials said Mullah Baradar was "providing intelligence."

However, the-then Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid had denied the reports while talking to the Reuters news agency, saying Mullah Baradar was still in Afghanistan actively organising the group's military and political activities.

The “BBC” had added: “Little is known about Mullah Baradar, but in terms of influence he is said to rank second only to the Taliban's spiritual leader, Mullah Muhammad Omar, who has been hiding from Western agencies since the 9/11 terror attacks in 2001. Mullah Baradar was quoted last year as telling his troops not to confront US soldiers with their superior firepower, but to adopt guerrilla tactics. He is said to be responsible for the Taliban tactic of planting "flowers" - Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) - along roadsides.”

According to the July 24, 2009, edition of the esteemed Newsweek magazine, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar would hop on a motorcycle and drive his old friend (Mullah Omar) to safety in the mountain in November 2001 as the Taliban defenses were crumbling during their war against the US-backed Northern Alliance.

The magazine had written: “In more than two dozen interviews for this profile, past and present members of the Afghan insurgency portrayed Baradar as no mere stand-in for the reclusive Omar. They say Baradar appoints and fires the Taliban's commanders and governors;

presides over its top military council and central ruling Shura in Quetta, where most of the group's senior leaders are based; and issues the group's most important policy statements in his own name.”

Ghani Baradar, the co-founder of the Taliban movement in Afghanistan, had served as Afghanistan’s Deputy Minister of Defence during the pre-2001 Taliban regime. He had headed a couple of provinces as Governor too.